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The Stono Rebellion – 1739

An 18th century map depicting the Stono River, site of a major anti-slavery rebellion in 1739.
An 18th century map depicting the Stono River, site of a major anti-slavery rebellion in 1739. | Screengrab: loc.gov

Described by the Library of Congress as “the largest uprising of enslaved people in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution,” the Stono Rebellion was named after the Stono River, located near Charleston, South Carolina.

On Sept. 9, 1739, a group of 20 blacks gathered at the Stono and then raided a store for firearms, killing the storekeepers and then marching south to Florida, then controlled by the Spanish Empire.

By the late afternoon, the group had swelled to as many as 100 rebels, having gathered supporters along their way, when mounted white Carolinians had caught up with them.

“More than twenty white Carolinians and nearly twice as many black Carolinians were killed before the rebellion was suppressed,” explained the Library of Congress. “As a consequence of the uprising, white lawmakers imposed a moratorium on slave imports and enacted a harsher slave code.”

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